Documentary Project: Bespoke

Bespoke – Documentary By Michael Firus (Extended Cut) from Michael Firus on Vimeo.

The small-scale yet intricate pursuits of  humanity interest me greatly; those art forms which seem concentrated and distilled.

My fascination with jewelry left little doubt that I would need to make this documentary my next project. This image and the ones that follow are isolated frames  from the footage I shot during the course of filming.

Never one to attend a ball without something special for my companion, a great interest in gems and precious metals began to form over time. Through my repeated purchases, I began to become quite well versed in the many things to consider when appraising the qualities of jewellery and its constituent complements: metals and precious stones. As is often the case with knowledge, appreciation soon followed.

One of the introductory shots: it begins with fire…

So after some thought, I decided that my next window of free time would be filled creating a short documentary on  a creator of such works of art.

Since it is sadly the case that even authentic jewellery is often mass produced, I decided to seek out a bespoke crafts-person; someone who could show my cameras and I the entire process from raw elements  to  finished product. After some research,  I  came across Emily Becher, a creator of custom designed and fitted jewelry.

Throughout the melting process, I began to be aware of a vortex formation within the tiny crucible; something I was determined to capture on film for its sheer sculptural beauty.

Inherent to its subject matter, I knew this project would involve a lot of macro cinematography –  something I make use of frequently. This side of cinematography is so appealing, not because it’s easy (it’s very fiddly)  but because our eyes are used to a fundamentally different way of seeing the world – they are by nature wide-angle. So in my quest to bring to my audience something of interest – something they may have never seen before – I often call upon the services of macro cinematography, simply because its so different to how we see the word on a daily basis. It is also subtle nod to narrative cinemas ‘look closer’  trope.

I utilized a high frame rate in order to make the fleeting moment of the pour more significant and contemplative.
Using the 150mm at f2.8 and an extension tube gave a beautifully shallow yet workable depth of field. Here the ingot is hammered repeatedly to improve its crystalline structure.
One of the most extreme examples of macro cinematography was in this shot, in which the three hallmark punches were shown




However, I also aimed to create a satisfying counter to such focused in close shots. For this reason, I regularly alternated between a macro lens at 150mm and wide angle lens: 12mm (on a super 35mm sensor). I did this so the ‘bigger picture’ could be witnessed; the workshops warm complexity and gentrified architecture.





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Published by michaelfirus

Cinematographer, Director, Editor

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